PUC approves sale of Merrimack Station, other power plants

  • The Merrimack Station power plant in Bow is seen at dusk on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor file) Elizabeth Frantz

Monitor staff
Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Eversource’s power plants, including Merrimack Station in Bow, are set to be sold for $175 million.

The sale to Granite Shore Power LLC was announced Wednesday, the day after it gained approval from the state’s Public Utilities Commission, according to a press release from Eversource. The companies anticipate closing on the sale by year’s end.

In addition to Merrimack Station, the sale includes Newington Station in Newington and Schiller Station in Portsmouth, along with two “peaking” combustion turbines in Groveton and Tamworth, according to the press release. Part of the agreement stipulated that the plants would continue to operate for the next 18 months.

According to Monitor archives, Eversource planned to sell coal-fired Merrimack Station for $75 million, almost half the figure at which the town of Bow valued the plant in 2012 and 2013 ($159 million), and more than what Eversource valued the plant at during the same time frame ($68 million).

The battle over valuation went to Merrimack Country Superior Court earlier this year. A judge sided with Eversource, but Bow appealed that decision to the state Supreme Court. The issue went before the Supreme Court on Oct. 12, the same day Eversource announced the buyers for its plants.

Bow argued during that appearance that Eversource used improper methods to evaluate the worth of the station itself, the combustion turbines, and the transmission and distribution network.

The court’s decision is still pending. It’s one for Bow residents to watch – should the Superior Court ruling be upheld, it’s been estimated that the town would owe Eversource between $8.5 million and $12.5 million at most, which could result in a significant hit to taxpayers.

Merrimack Station is located on approximately 340 acres along the Merrimack River in Bow and houses two coal-fired steam units and two kerosene-fueled combustion turbine units with a cumulative capacity of 482 megawatts. The two coal-fired units serve intermediate load, and the two combustion turbine units mainly serve a peaking role, operating during periods of winter and summer peak demand or when generation is needed quickly to maintain electrical system stability, according to the PUC order.

The PUC also approved the sale of Eversource’s nine hydroelectric generation facilities for an additional $83.3 million to HSE Hydro NH AC LLC.

(Caitlin Andrews can be reached at 369-3309, candrews@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @ActualCAndrews.)